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#408645 - 09/01/12 12:36 PM Stuck in CBT
PJS Offline


Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Western N.Y
Hello,
I've been wanting to post regarding an issue, for over a year now, and haven't had the courage to do so. I'm doing it now. I also haven't had the courage to face this issue with my psychologist, whom I trust in a way I've never trusted before, and whom I respect highly. If anyone has had similar issues bringing up this topic please let me know how you did so. So here it is...
I lost my virginity at age 17, to a female. I was comfortable with this, and with the act itself. Years later I was dating a gal that I had, in my mind, convinced myself that she was 'out of my league', this was in my early 20's, and this began my sexual dysfunction. It was around this time that my mind would not let go of the fact that a creepy old man molested me when I was age 11, and before that a bully tried to get me to give him oral sex when I was 8 years old, and that my mothers boyfriend did so after getting me so drunk I passed out, at age 15. I had an extremely abusive father, and a heroin addicted mother, so I had a lot of self hatred for most of my life. Post Traumatic I suppose. Ok, I digress. So the girlfriend after, I again had dysfunction, and again with another gal. Each time the self hatred built. I would then drown myself in alcohol and drugs, and allow various men from the bar I worked at to perform oral sex on me, after one of these events I attempted suicide by hanging. I have been in recovery since, and in almost two years, I have healed in ways I once thought impossible. But I have yet to explore sexuality with my psychologist. I'm beyond confused. What am I? I've convinced myself that I am gay, or have I convinced myself that I am straight? I have not been in a relationship in over ten years. I am now a 40 year old, about to go to Grad School, in a good profession, life seems good from the outside, but I fear most that I will die alone. I often tell my psychologist that there is an issue, a big one, and I will attempt talking about it and take different angled in getting there. Sometimes I know he is aware of where I am going, and will start to counsel me, and I shut him out. I really want to do this, but cannot break through this shame and guilt. He is a patient guy, and allows me the comfort of time, he never pushes, and I agree with this approach. I think he's right, if I gather the courage to discuss this, it will surely result in greater self-esteem. Any advice? If not, I still appreciate the fact that I had a place to put this energy, and vent it. Hope all is well with everyone here, and thank you for this incredible website.

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#408653 - 09/01/12 03:17 PM Re: Stuck in CBT [Re: PJS]
scottyg Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 253
Loc: Seattle
PJS-

welcome back to the fold. Your post is nominally about sexual identity and how to discuss this ambiguity with a therapist. I'll get to that momentarily.

But really, your post is about finding the courage to continue healing. This is a great topic. I think we all hit a plateau in our healing journey. I think we all have an issue (or two) that still needs resolution, no matter how far we've come in other areas. The question is how do we find the courage to tackle that? By feeling the fear and doing it anyway. By setting small goals, working toward success and by forgiving our failures. When i am feeling brave enough to address a lingering demon I let my successes build on each other back to back to back. This creates a healing inertia that helps break down the decades of emotional barricades. I'll take an emotion risk... I'll live through it. I'll take another emotional risk... I'll live through it.

Now, your question is how to get that started? I'd say a great start would be cutting and pasting your post into an email to your therapist. Hit send before you have a chance to second-guess it. This will communicate your anxiety and signal your desire to discuss the issue of sexual ID. This will allow the therapist to begin the dialogue without you needing to take that leap all by yourself. Once you've made that emotional leap, feel the fear and your heart racing and do it again. Recovery is not for the squeamish. You've been brave before. Be brave again.

As far as the sexual ID issue goes I really don't think you got anything to worry about. You have no secret double life. You didn't say you engage in risky behaviors with many anonymous men so I'll assume you don't. You've had a few girlfriends and a string of same-sex encounters but no real relationships. Sounds pretty normal to me. We all feel inadequate around romantic partners so it makes sense you will invent reasons you cannot be together with females. I'm married and I did it for years to my wife. She was too good for me, I needed to get drunk and pass out in the bushes behind Taco Bell. As far as sexual acts with other guys, that may be a conditioned behavior learned from abuse. Many men equate sex acts with other men because they had such a profound, early exposure to that world. Same sex attractions does not ID you as gay. Gay is a mindset and a lifestyle. It is a personal identity and cannot simply be reduced to a set of sex acts.

I understand the conflict in your post. What am I? Straight or gay? What if we throw out the question? Would you feel better if straight or gay was a false dichotomy. It helps to look at sexual identity within a spectrum of possible orientations. No an either or orientation our society imposes. On one extreme we've got uber straight and on the other extreme we've got ultra gay. Most of us fall somewhere in between these two poles. And I think people can lean one way or another over their lives so their sexual identity fluctuates a bit. What I am saying is don't have to declare for one extreme or another, unless it makes you feel more comfortable to do so. If you feel better about yourself being a straight then be a straight. Don't let your past dictate your current identity. That's what recovery is all about, right? Rebuilding a healthy person from the rubble of our old dysfunctions.
_________________________
I've got a bike you can ride it if you like.
Its got a basket, a bell that rings
And many other things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could -but I've borrowed it.

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#408666 - 09/01/12 07:04 PM Re: Stuck in CBT [Re: PJS]
PJS Offline


Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Western N.Y
Hi Scotty,
Thanks for your reply. I will take your advice on all accounts. One of my biggest achievements in therapy was gaining the ability to prevent well established automatic thoughts from taking over, and snowballing. This issue, however, has so much power attached to it that I will need more help in tackling it. The whole concept of just 'being' and simply experiencing moments in life is a concept that I've struggled to get through my thick skull. When I do mention dating, he tells me to have fun with it, experience it, and nothing has to happen that I don't want to happen, that I just need to have fun being with someone. I started flirting with a gal at work, only to find way out of all the plans we would make. I must have come off as a real jerk. I was recently assaulted at work, the guy was charged with Forcible touching of a persons sexual intimate parts, and 2nd degree harassment. I was really hard on myself about pressing charges, and still feel humiliated at work (the guy was a client). So I think the addition of that to what I already carry around in my head on the subject had me more stressed. I will definitely send this on, would you mind if sent the entire thread? And where should I send the check? Lol. Great advice Scott,very helpful, and you made me feel a little more relaxed on the subject. Obviously you know your stuff. Thank you!
_________________________
"Before embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves"

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#408708 - 09/02/12 02:21 PM Re: Stuck in CBT [Re: PJS]
scottyg Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 253
Loc: Seattle
No problem. Send the whole thread! I am flattered. I know a little bit about dysfunction. I've been living it for the past 30 odd years. CBT really helped me get my head into a better place without all that distorted thinking driving dysfunction. It's hard to give up an identity, a thought pattern, a set of defeatist expectations. I struggle, too. Don't forget that we're all struggling... together we build each other up so those struggles don't feel so isolating. Don't be a stranger waiting another year to post. I want an update when you get that date.

-SG
_________________________
I've got a bike you can ride it if you like.
Its got a basket, a bell that rings
And many other things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could -but I've borrowed it.

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#408710 - 09/02/12 05:10 PM Re: Stuck in CBT [Re: PJS]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I would second ScottyG's advice. I especially like the part about sending the T your email above and not second guessing yourself. Maybe you can work out a deal to send thoughts (hopefully uncensored) to him via email.

It sounds like you have a good T. (Check out the "Consumer's Guide for Therapist Shopping") to look at any other areas you should be addressing with him.

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#408719 - 09/02/12 07:21 PM Re: Stuck in CBT [Re: PJS]
PJS Offline


Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Western N.Y
Thanks guys. I really do appreciate it. I think I will be on more. I just wasn't ready to even do this website until recently. Last year, I even took a promotion and moved to a new city. My Psychologist really help me built myself, as I was afraid of my own shadow half my life. Now I just have to run with it! Grad school, I will be a LCSW as well Ken ;-) Yes Scotty, it may not happen right away, but you will hear an update. Again, thanks guys.
_________________________
"Before embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves"

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